June 8th, 2020

For Less Run-Out, Try Rotating Your Cases During Bullet Seating

Bullet Seating Reloading rotate cartridge Run-out TIR

Here is a simple technique that can potentially help you load straighter ammo, with less run-out (as measured on the bullet). This procedure costs nothing and adds only a few seconds to the time needed to load a cartridge. Next time you’re loading ammo with a threaded (screw-in) seating die, try seating the bullet in two stages. Run the cartridge up in the seating die just enough to seat the bullet half way. Then lower the cartridge and rotate it 180° in the shell-holder. Now raise the cartridge up into the die again and finish seating the bullet.

Steve, aka “Short Range”, one of our Forum members, recently inquired about run-out apparently caused by his bullet-seating process. Steve’s 30BR cases were coming out of his neck-sizer with good concentricity, but the run-out nearly doubled after he seated the bullets. At the suggestion of other Forum members, Steve tried the process of rotating his cartridge while seating his bullet. Steve then measured run-out on his loaded rounds. To his surprise there was a noticeable reduction in run-out on the cases which had been rotated during seating. Steve explains: “For the rounds that I loaded yesterday, I seated the bullet half-way, and turned the round 180 degrees, and finished seating the bullet. That reduced the bullet runout by almost half on most rounds compared to the measurements from the first test.”

READ Bullet Seating Forum Thread »

run-out bullet

run-out bullet

Steve recorded run-out measurements on his 30 BR brass using both the conventional (one-pass) seating procedure, as well as the two-stage (with 180° rotation) method. Steve’s measurements are collected in the two charts above. As you can see, the run-out was less for the rounds which were rotated during seating. Note, the change is pretty small (less than .001″ on average), but every little bit helps in the accuracy game. If you use a threaded (screw-in) seating die, you might try this two-stage bullet-seating method. Rotating your case in the middle of the seating process won’t cost you a penny, and it just might produce straighter ammo (nothing is guaranteed). If you do NOT see any improvement on the target, you can always go back to seating your bullets in one pass. READ Forum Thread..

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
December 20th, 2019

Pioneers of Precision Shooting — Legendary L.E. “Sam” Wilson

lewilson15001
Sam (L.E.) Wilson actively competed in benchrest matches until he passed. He’s shown here with an Unlimited benchrest rifle of his own design.

If you’ve used hand dies with an arbor press, chances are you’ve seen the L.E. Wilson company name. You may not know that the founder of L.E. Wilson Inc. was an avid benchrest competitor who pioneered many of the precision reloading methods we used today. Known as “Sam” to his friends, L.E. Wilson was one of the great accuracy pioneers who collected many trophies for match victories during his long shooting career.

lewilson1503

The photo above shows Sam (foreground) with all of his children at a shoot. Behind Sam are Jim, Jack and Mary, shooting in the Unlimited Class. What do they say — “the family that plays together stays together”? Note the long, externally-adjusted scopes being used. Learn more about Sam (L.E.) Wilson and his company on the L.E. Wilson Inc. Facebook Page.

lewilson1504

Unlimited Class was Sam’s favorite discipline, because in the “good old days” top competitors normally would craft both the rifle and the front/rear rests. This rewarded Sam’s ingenuity and machining/fabrication skills. In the “build-it-yourself” era, one couldn’t just order up an unlimited rail gun on the internet. How times have changed…

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 3 Comments »
October 22nd, 2019

21st Century Hydro Press and Arbor Press Review with Videos

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seating

Hydro Press and Arbor Press from 21st Century Shooting

Gear Review by F-Class John
Inline dies, used with arbor presses, continue to dominate the world of precision reloading. While arbor presses have remained mostly unchanged, 21st Century Shooting offers the Hydro Bullet Seating Press, a radical departure from your average arbor press. If you are looking for improved “feel” and feedback on bullet seating pressure, you should definitely check out the Hydro Press. This design has been around for a while now but has remained unchallenged since its inception. The 21st Century Hydro Press still remains a category leader (and the choice of many top competitors) for good reason.

Arbor presses have traditionally worked by using a gear-driven ram operated with a rotating handle. This allows for a compact design but often lacks the tactile feel and smooth operation that many reloaders want. The 21st Century Hydro Bullet Seater works by using simple mechanical leverage coupled with a hydraulic pressure gauge to seat bullets in a smooth motion all while helping you keep track of seating pressures.

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seating

Editor: Many top shooters believe they can seat bullets with greater precision using the 21st Century Hydro Press. I personally get more consistent seating, which seems to improve accuracy and even help a bit with lowering ES. The Hydro Press gives you excellent feedback when seating bullets. That has helped me detect a case with too much neck tension, or a case that may have doughnut issues. When the gauge does something odd or spikes, you are alerted to a possible issue.

In this video, John Perkins of 21st Century Shooting Shows how the Hydro Seater functions.

You might be asking why or how simple a simple mechanical lever gives you an advantage over gear driven systems and the answer is simple, leverage. The Hydro Seater is equipped with a long arm that comes straight up and out from the front and uses a set of hinges that connect to the ram. This elongated arm provides lots of leverage allowing easy force modulation. This smoothly applies pressure to the seating die in one fluid motion. This transfer of power helps seat bullets smoothly in even the tightest of necks without any jerky or stuttering movements.

Working at the same time is a hydraulic pressure gauge using internal oil. I found this gauge was incredibly sensitive, accurate, and repeatable compared to spring-driven gauges. The Hydro gauge read-out really gives the user the chance to sort ammo by seating pressure should they choose. In my particular case I only use it to cull out noticeably high or low ones as “blow off” rounds and am perfectly happy if the rest fall within a given pressure range. The nice thing is that the press allows you to be as picky as you want.

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seatingCompact 21st Century Standard Arbor Press
Not to be outdone by its big brother, 21st Century offers a Standard Arbor Press as well, in both right-hand and left-hand versions. Affordably priced at $108.99, this small arbor press in made to the same exacting standards as the Hydro Seater and has some nice features of its own compared to other small arbors.

The large, knurled adjustment knob is one of my favorite features. It tightens securely, yet it allows for easy raising or lowering of the head unit without the need for hex wrenches. 21st Century’s basic arbor press also has a slightly canted lever arm which allows the user to apply pressure more easily and consistently compared to some other arbor presses. While this press is small enough to fit many range bags, it can be disassembled quickly with a single Allen wrench.

While I own the 21st Century Hydro Press for use at home, the Standard Arbor Press goes with me to out-of-town events, so I can adjust bullet seating depth at the match. I love using it for this purpose since the little press is so easy to transport, and then set up and use on the road. The seating action is smooth, and there is plenty of leverage.

Seating my bullets long before I travel gives me the ability to set them to adjust for any throat erosion that may occur. This also ensures my bullets are seated correctly, by eliminating any potential bullet weld or problems from the bullets accidentally bouncing in your luggage. I like the confidence of knowing that my bullets are properly seated before a big match, especially when it has been days or weeks since I loaded them.

SUMMARY — 21st Century Makes Great Bullet Seating Presses

Whether you need a premium bullet-seating Press such as the Hydro Bullet Seater or a basic, easy-to-transport Arbor Press, 21st Century Shooting has a excellent option for you. The Hydro Press offers outstanding bullet seating “feel” and consistency, with an ultra-smooth operation. The basic Arbor Press is well-made, compact, and also yields excellent results. Both these presses are built for a lifetime of use, using high-quality materials.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
April 29th, 2018

Buchanan Hand Press Review by UltimateReloader.com

Buchanan Hand Press reloading level-action portable sizing die lee

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com recently tested the nicely-crafted Buchanan Hand Press. This symmetrical, twin-lever tool can handle pretty much any sizing and/or seating task as it offers plenty of leverage — even for full-length case resizing. Crafted by Buchanan Precision Machine, this Hand Press has a central mount for the die on top with a conventional shell-holder at the bottom. There is a handy spent primer catcher, plus an optional Lock-N-Load die insert adapter. This press is well-built, but the $245.00 price is steep. You can buy FIVE Lee Hand Presses for the cost of this Buchanan.

You can see how this press works in this recent UltimateReloader video. Gavin demonstrates all the key functions, including decapping, sizing, and bullet seating. You can see that Gavin was impressed with this hand press, which is well-suited for loading at the range:

Gavin explains that the modern Buchanan Hand Press is based on a previous design: “This press is an evolution of an old press that has been out of production for years: the Huntington Industries Decker Hand Press. While it shares some of the basic design features, the Buchanan Precision Machine Hand Reloading Press takes quality and functionality to the next level. This press accepts standard shell holders, uses standard 7/8×14 dies (or dies with Hornady Lock-N-Load bushings as I showed in the above video), and has a COL capacity of 3 3/4″. Need to load 30-06 away from the bench? No problem, this press can handle it. Unlike other hand presses, this one stands by itself on a flat/level surface, and can be clamped to a bench in order to stay in one spot.”

Buchanan Hand Press reloading level-action portable sizing die lee

For more details, check out the full Buchanan Precision Hand Press Review on UltimateReloader.com.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 7 Comments »
May 27th, 2014

New Micrometer Top Bullet Seating Dies from Sinclair.

Sinclair International has a very impressive new series of stainless bullet seating dies for use with arbor presses. We first saw this product at SHOT Show in January. Now these click-adjustable seaters are in stock for 15 popular cartridge types. Beautifully made by L.E. Wilson, these stainless dies have precise half-thousandth adjustments with clicks you can feel as rotate the top to increase or decrease seating depth. But quality isn’t cheap — these new dies cost $199.00 each.

Sinclair International L.E. Wilson micro-adjust micrometer hand die arbor press click adjust

The folks at Sinclair told us: “We gathered our customers ideas and reloading experience with hand dies, and partnered with the hand die experts, L.E. Wilson.” Thes new dies allow precise control over seating depth with a simple turn of the indexed top section. Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Micro-Adjust Bullet Seaters are detent-bearing driven with positive click increments of .0005”:

  • Each seater stem is custom fitted to the seater body ensuring close tolerance fit.
  • Precision-cut threads allow bullet seating depth adjustment in .0005″ increments
  • Wide range of adjustment for use with a variety of bullets and seating depths.
  • Micro-Adjust “clicks” via stainless springs and stainless ball bearings.
  • Constructed of 416 Stainless Steel with precise, laser-etched adjustment scale.
  • Made in the USA by L.E. Wilson (85 years of inline die experience).

Sinclair International L.E. Wilson micro-adjust micrometer hand die arbor press click adjust

Sinclair/L.E. Wilson Die Cartridge Types

.222 Rem

.223 Rem

.22-250 Rem

6mm PPC

6mmBR Norma

6mm Dasher

.243 Winchester

6.5×47 Lapua

.260 Rem

6.5-284

.30 BR

.308 Winchester

.30-06 Springfield

.300 Win Magnum

.338 Lapua Magnum

Permalink New Product, Reloading No Comments »
February 26th, 2012

Gear Review: Compact Combo Press from the Harrell Brothers

If you’re looking for a solid, beautifully fabricated loading press that can do double-duty at home AND at the range, consider the Combo Press from Harrell’s Precision, run by brothers Lynwood and Walter Harrell. Though it is very compact, it has plenty of leverage to full-length-size cases. The Harrell’s Combo Press works BOTH as an arbor press and as a standard press that functions with shell-holder and conventional screw-in dies. The arbor section on the left is tall enough to hold a Wilson micrometer-top seater. The threaded die section on the right has enough clearance for .308-sized cases.

One of the best features of the Combo Press from Harrell’s Precision is its sturdy clamp. This mounts solidly to a wood loading bench or table top. It also has enough vertical clearance between the jaws to work with most range benches. Forum member Boyd Allen has written a detailed review of the Harrell’s press, with additional photos by Paal Erik Jensen of Norway. The Harrell’s Precision Combo press retails for $295.00. That’s pretty pricey, but consider that it can replace BOTH an arbor press and a standard press. CLICK HERE to read full COMBO PRESS REVIEW

Combo Press Has Plenty of Power to Bump Shoulders
This Editor has loaded ammo with this press and I can say it performed well. It actually bumped shoulders on fired 6BR brass more easily than a larger cast-iron press we have in our loading area. I attribute that to the fact that the threads for the die are very precise and the shell-holder seats firmly on the ram, with no slip. Seating with a hand die (on the left side of the press) yields repeatable results, although I have to say I get better “feel” with a good Arbor press, such as those made by 21st Century, K&M, or Sinclair Int’l. I also like the availability of the seating Force Gauge on the K&M Arbor.

Permalink Gear Review No Comments »